Coach: Michael Murphy (10th season)
2013 Record: 6-5 (4-1 Inter-Ac League)
2013 In Two Sentences: It was a tale of two seasons for the Fords. After dropping decisions in four of their first six games, the Fords reeled off four wins in their final five contests en route to capturing a share of the Inter-Ac League title.
Key Departures: Brendan Burke (QB-DB), Christian Giubilato (WR-DB), Michael Solomon (WR-DB).
It’s hard arguing against Phil Poquie being the top running back in 2014. Injuries have sidetracked him the last two seasons, but when on his game, he’s an explosive rusher.
Looking Ahead: One of Murphy’s biggest concerns is at quarterback, where Kevin Carter will begin his first season as the starter. While Carter saw seldom playing
time last fall, this is his first real chance to grasp the No. 1 spot on the depth chart and take over for Brendan Burke, who was extremely effective in the second half of 2013.
The Fords have a slew of returning players, some of whom are receiving interest from several FCS programs. Eight full-time starters from last year’s lineup are back in the fold. It’s that experience, knowledge and leadership from his core players that gives Murphy plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2014.
Players to Watch: In addition to Carter, who has the chance to be an electrifying dual threat under center, the Fords will lean heavily on the talents of senior running-back Phil Poquie (5-9, 185), who is built like a rock and runs like a deer. When healthy, Poquie is an explosive talent, and he might just be the top returning RB in the county.
Chauncey Simmons (6-4, 315) is the team’s best returning lineman, and wide receiver Derek Mountain is an explosive athlete. LJ Barlow (6-3, 215), a two-time Daily Times Wrestler of the Year, excels at linebacker and Dox Aitken (6-4, 190) is a dangerous two-way threat as a wide receiver and free safety. All of these players were vital members of last year’s team that won an Inter-Ac title.
Coach’s Corner: “We expect to be a competitive football team. We have a difficult non-league schedule that we hope will prepare us to compete for an Inter-Ac title, in what should be a balanced and difficult league. We feel that the strengths of this team are that we have depth and experience returning at many positions, with some guys that can change the outcome of a game quickly. The key to the success of this team will be how quickly the offensive line can come together and gel. As always, we will need solid play from our QB. If we can get those things together, I think that we can have a very solid season.”
Season Opener: Away vs. West Catholic, at Wildwood, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 30, Noon.